Using a spatial and tabular database to generate statistics from terrain and spectral data for soil surveys

By: , and 
Edited by: W.U. Reybold and G.W. Petersen



A methodology has been developed to create a spatial database by referencing digital elevation, Landsat multispectral scanner data, and digitized soil premap delineations of a number of adjacent 7.5-min quadrangle areas to a 30-m Universal Transverse Mercator projection. Slope and aspect transformations are calculated from elevation data and grouped according to field office specifications. An unsupervised classification is performed on a brightness and greenness transformation of the spectral data. The resulting spectral, slope, and aspect maps of each of the 7.5-min quadrangle areas are then plotted and submitted to the field office to be incorporated into the soil premapping stages of a soil survey. A tabular database is created from spatial data by generating descriptive statistics for each data layer within each soil premap delineation. The tabular data base is then entered into a data base management system to be accessed by the field office personnel during the soil survey and to be used for subsequent resource management decisions.

Large amounts of data are collected and archived during resource inventories for public land management. Often these data are stored as stacks of maps or folders in a file system in someone's office, with the maps in a variety of formats, scales, and with various standards of accuracy depending on their purpose. This system of information storage and retrieval is cumbersome at best when several categories of information are needed simultaneously for analysis or as input to resource management models. Computers now provide the resource scientist with the opportunity to design increasingly complex models that require even more categories of resource-related information, thus compounding the problem.

Recently there has been much emphasis on the use of geographic information systems (GIS) as an alternative method for map data archives and as a resource management tool. Considerable effort has been devoted to the generation of tabular databases, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture's SCS/S015 (Soil Survey Staff, 1983), to archive the large amounts of information that are collected in conjunction with mapping of natural resources in an easily retrievable manner.

During the past 4 years the U.S. Geological Survey's EROS Data Center, in a cooperative effort with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Soil Conservation Service (SCS), developed a procedure that uses spatial and tabular databases to generate elevation, slope, aspect, and spectral map products that can be used during soil premapping. The procedure results in tabular data, residing in a database management system, that are indexed to the final soil delineations and help quantify soil map unit composition.

The procedure was developed and tested on soil surveys on over 600 000 ha in Wyoming, Nevada, and Idaho. A transfer of technology from the EROS Data Center to the BLM will enable the Denver BLM Service Center to use this procedure in soil survey operations on BLM lands. Also underway is a cooperative effort between the EROS Data Center and SCS to define and evaluate maps that can be produced as derivatives of digital elevation data for 7.5-min quadrangle areas, such as those used during the premapping stage of the soil surveys mentioned above, the idea being to make such products routinely available.

The procedure emphasizes the applications of digital elevation and spectral data to order-three soil surveys on rangelands, and will:

  1. Incorporate digital terrain and spectral data into a spatial database for soil surveys.

    Provide hardcopy products (that can be generated from digital elevation model and spectral data) that are useful during the soil pre-mapping process.

    Incorporate soil premaps into a spatial database that can be accessed during the soil survey process along with terrain and spectral data.

    Summarize useful quantitative information for soil mapping and for making interpretations for resource management.

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Using a spatial and tabular database to generate statistics from terrain and spectral data for soil surveys
DOI 10.2136/sssaspecpub20.c8
Year Published 1987
Language English
Publisher Soil Science Society of America
Contributing office(s) Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center
Description 8 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Title Soil survey techniques, SSSA Special Publication 20
First page 91
Last page 98
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